Especially in the past year, plenty of recruits have fallen in love with Boulder and the Colorado football team from the moment they step on campus.

Chris Mulumba was sold without even seeing the place.

A 6-foot-4, 280-pound defensive end, Mulumba signed with the Buffs on Thursday as a mid-year junior college transfer, despite having never been to the campus.

"I just talked with the coaching staff and did my research," said Mulumba, who will enroll at CU in January. "One of my old teammates (safety Kyle Trego), he's playing for Colorado right now, so he was helping me a lot.

"I'm really excited. I can't wait to get there and join the team."

Mulumba, who last played for Diablo Valley College (with Trego) in 2015, redshirted this past season. He said he spent the past couple of weeks getting academics in order. On Thursday, he was cleared academically, the Buffs gave him a scholarship offer that day and, "I signed right away," he said.

The 24-year-old Mulumba will be one of the most intriguing players on the roster this spring, not only because what he could bring to the field, but because of his unique background.

Mulumba's parents are from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, but moved to Finland about a year before he was born for a better opportunity to raise their children. He grew up speaking French (the official language of Congo) inside the home, but spoke Finnish outside the home.

Athletically, Mulumba competed in judo, where he earned his black belt and won four Finnish national championships.


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He also won a championship in wrestling.

During high school, he began playing football on a local club team.

"It's a small sport (in Finland)," he said. "People don't really know about it or watch it."

Nevertheless, Mulumba saw a future for himself in football.

"I always wanted to come here to play college football," he said.

First, he had to spend a year in the Finnish military.

"After high school, we have a mandatory Army year in Finland," he said. "It was interesting. It was a good experience and different, but I think I grew a lot that year. For us, it's like training for battle situations and I was like a spy, a scout."

After serving in the military, Mulumba was offered an opportunity to play collegiately at Northern Colorado. One of his coaches in Finland was Sami Porkka, who played for the Bears from 1990-93. They sent a highlight tape to UNC and the Bears gave Mulumba an offer.

"But I couldn't pass my English test," Mulumba said. "That's why I had to take the JUCO route."

He played at Chabot College in 2014 before transferring to Diablo Valley in 2015. After the 2015 season, he took official visits to Central Florida, Central Michigan, Fresno State, Houston and New Mexico. He signed a letter of intent with Central Florida last February, but never played for the Knights.

Now, after a long journey, it appears he's ready to fulfill his dream of playing Division I college football. He will be coming to CU at a good time, as the Buffs lose their entire starting defensive line to graduation.

"He's an excellent defensive end," CU head coach Mike MacIntyre said. "He'll be able to rush the passer and play some defensive end. He'll be able to help us where we're losing (linemen) JC Carrell and Samson (Kafovalu)."

Mulumba is eager to fill whatever role the Buffs need him to fill, as he takes another step on what has already been a fascinating journey.

"I'm excited and can't wait to see what the future holds," he said. "I'm pretty sure everything is going to go well and I'm in good hands."

Notable

Mulumba has two years to play at CU. He will turn 25 on Oct. 10. ... Mulumba's two sisters, Audrey and Gloria, play basketball at Arizona Western College.

Contact staff writer Brian Howell at howellb@dailycamera.com or twitter.com/BrianHowell33.